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A double gain: Epidauros acquisition will boost both of Clinical Data’s genomics divisions
NEWTON, Mass.—Clinical Data Inc. in late August announced that it had acquired privately held Epidauros Biotechnologie AG of Bernried, Germany, in a cash transaction valued at 8.75 million Euros—or approximately $11.84 million. The acquisition bolsters both sides of Clinical Data's offerings—genetic test/biomarker development and molecular/pharmacogenomics services—as Epidauros brings an established portfolio of proprietary genetic biomarkers, expertise in genetic biomarker discovery, relationships with leading diagnostic companies, and a fast-growing pharmacogenomics services business.
"Epidauros is an interesting parallel to what we were already doing to expand in two distinct areas," says Drew Fromkin, president and CEO of Clinical Data. "Our Cogenics division provides DNA and RNA services such as sequencing and gene expression and genotyping for pharma and biotech companies and also for research institutions, and Epidauros has a strong reputation in that space in Europe. And then we've been putting a lot of effort into our PGxHealth division to leverage intellectual property we've acquired through Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, and now Epidauros, to get pharmacogenomics tests in the clinics to focus on drug response in individuals."
What is particularly exciting to Fromkin is intellectual property held by Epidauros in the area of genetic markers related to drug metabolism and drug transport.
"They have a series of markers that are important to how drugs move in and out of cells across the cell walls, which really affects drug activity and disposal of a drug," Fromkin notes, "and this is critical for looking at key areas like toxicity and side effects and response. This acquisition is good for growth on our services side, but strategically speaking, the biggest value is on the intellectual property side, which will enhance our ability to improve existing tests and advance new tests into the marketplace as well as to interact with our own drug franchises."
The intellectual property portfolio acquired by Clinical Data in the transaction includes biomarkers in genes relating to prominent drug transporters such as MDR1, OCT1, MRP1, and important cytochrome P450 drug-metabolizing genes, such as CYP2B6 and CYP2D6 . MDR1 encodes P-glycoprotein, a key protein involved in drug transport that is known to modulate drug disposition. In addition, the genes CYP2B6, OCT1 and MRP1 are implicated in the absorption, distribution and metabolism of many drugs that span a variety of therapeutic classes and indications, and are likely to be important in both response and safety profiles.
Epidauros will provide Clinical Data with additional scientific expertise, biotechnology partnering capabilities and a deep understanding of European clinical markets, Fromkin adds. He expects the capabilities of Epidauros' laboratories to complement those of Clinical Data and "to contribute a strong local presence in the important German market. With our operations in the U.K. and France, this transaction provides Clinical Data with laboratories in three top European markets."
To further advance the combined abilities of the two companies and to expand Clinical Data's clinical testing and targeted therapeutics programs, Dr. Michael Lutz, the current CEO of Epidauros, has agreed to join PGxHealth as the senior vice president of pharmacogenetic partnerships.
"We can now further leverage Epidauros' and Cogenics' support of pharmaceutical trials with our leading pharmaceutical clients," Lutz says. "Together, the companies have supported more than 1,000 clinical trials over the past several years. Moreover, the combination of Clinical Data's and our expertise and intellectual property will greatly enhance the collective ability of the companies to develop companion diagnostics to guide drug development and prescribing."
At this point, Fromkin doesn't expect to be making any other changes to the staffing at Epidauros, which he says has "just north of 30 people." Instead, his focus is on ensuring a smooth integration with the existing Clinical Data organizational structure.